Places like National Trust gardens will have to close from Monday, December 14 but public parks will remain open as new rules come into force ordering the closure of outdoor attractions in Wales.
Government officials haven’t yet drawn up a definitive list of what constitutes an outdoor attraction, but the closures will include outdoor Christmas attractions, funfairs, trampoline parks and indoor skating parks.
Cardiff council will close some Christmas attractions on Friday night while Swansea plans to close rides at its Christmas Alpine Village attraction on Saturday night.
Holiday resorts, such as Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, are still waiting for clarification of whether they can keep their attractions open, following the First Minister’s announcement on Friday, December 11.
In an update on Friday evening, they said: “We are awaiting further information regarding the latest Welsh Government updated this lunch time. We will let you know what this means for our guests as soon as we are able to do so.
“Thank you for your continued support and patience.”
Citing examples of what they meant by “outdoor attractions” on Friday evening, a Welsh Government spokesman said it meant any visitor attraction which attracts people outside for entertainment, such as St Fagans, Winter Wonderlands or the Welsh Botanic Gardens.
St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff said it would close from December 14.
The enforced closures are part of efforts to help stem the soaring rise of coronavirus cases in Wales and the announcement came after Wales’ chief medical officer Frank Atherton raised concerns about Christmas attractions that remained open.
He had said: “I am worried, I will be honest, that we still have Christmas fairs and we still have Christmas attractions running in some of our major cities. I think we should be questioning some of that.
“We have to, somehow, reduce human to human contact if we are going to get the numbers down before Christmas.”
The coronavirus regulations will be amended on Monday meaning all outdoor visitor attractions in Wales – including the grounds of museums, galleries and heritage sites – will have to close with immediate effect on December 14.
Swansea council said it would be closing the popular Alpine Village Christmas attraction from Saturday, December 12.
In a statement released on Friday evening, Mark Drakeford said: “The situation in Wales is very serious; rates of coronavirus are very high and the NHS is under sustained pressure.
“The advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and from Public Health Wales is that we need to take urgent action now which will help us enter the festive period with as low an infection rate as possible. This is why we have decided to ask all secondary schools to move to online teaching for the last week of term.
“As of Monday 14 December, we will also bring forward changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020. This will require all outdoor attractions, including funfairs, to close. It will also make clear that trampoline parks and indoor skating parks must be closed.”
The regulations will be formally reviewed next week, Mr Drakeford added. In the meantime, Wales will enter a four-tier traffic light lockdown system after Christmas and warned that Wales would move into a full lockdown in Tier Four after Christmas unless case levels dropped over the festive period.
Here’s a list of places in Wales that have confirmed they will be closing.
Fairground rides at Christmas at the Castle, Cardiff
The event that replaced Winter Wonderland is set to run until Sunday, January 3, but there will be no ice walk, which was cancelled last month, and there will be no fairground rides with immediate effect.
Stalls are allowed to stay open as they are classed as non-essential retail outlets.
On Friday, the council said: “Following Welsh Government’s announcement today on closing all outdoor attractions, the council’s Winter Wonderland funfair rides at Cardiff Castle and the Alice in Wonderland Walk will be closing this evening.”
The leader of Cardiff Council, Councillor Huw Thomas, said on Friday: “The increase in Cardiff case numbers that we are seeing now could not be any more stark. This needs to act as a warning to every one of us about the deadly seriousness of the situation we are now facing. If current projections are realised, then by Christmas week the high prevalence of the disease in the community would lead to a massive level of transmission within families and inevitably the loss of many lives. Lives that don’t have to be lost.
“Each and every one of us has a responsibility to act now, and not only by just adhering to the Welsh Government coronavirus regulations, but by taking further steps to protect those whom we plan to see at Christmas – our cherished loved ones.”
Alpine Village, Swansea
Swansea Council, in conjunction with partners, has been offering a safe and festive Christmas with new lights, a Christmas Market, Christmas trees in the city centre and a virtual Christmas parade.
A spokesman said: “The closure of the big wheel, funfair ride, games stalls and food and drink outlets follows today’s Welsh Government announcement that outdoor attractions across Wales must close – part of the government’s bid to curb the pandemic as the number of coronavirus-related Welsh hospital patients continues to rise.
“The city centre Christmas Market will remain open in line with restrictions although a fairground carousel there will close.
“Today, Swansea had an infection rate of 580 per 100,000 people while Neath Port Talbot had Wales’ second highest rate of 718.”
Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism said: “Both Swansea and Neath Port Talbot are facing daily rises in the infection rate. More and more people are becoming infected and we need to take steps to reduce the amount of social mixing.
“All the Museum Park Christmas attractions have complied with guidelines to date and the operator, Sayers Events, has worked closely with the council to ensure this. However, the Welsh Government now want outdoor attractions to close across Wales.
“Given the worrying level of infection in the community this is the right course of action – it will protect the public from the potential of spreading the virus.
“Our health and social services are under immense pressure and we need to do all we can to help stem the rising tide of Covid cases.
“We are complying with Welsh Government regulations and we hope that others may also consider what actions they can take to protect the public. The level of risk in Wales is very high.
“We apologise to those who may have been planning to visit Swansea’s Museum Park Christmas attractions, but we know people will understand that the priority for us all should be to protect people and our vital services at this very difficult time.”
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National Trust Wales
The National Trust in Wales announced it would be closing all of its properties from Monday, December 14.
In a statement posted on its website the organisation, which owns attractions like Bodnant Garden, Dyffryn Gardens and Chirk Castle, it said: “In line with Welsh Government guidance, all of our places in Wales will temporarily close from 14 December as part of the national effort to bring coronavirus under control. The safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities remains our priority.
“We will continue to follow Welsh Government restrictions and encourage everybody to follow the latest guidelines. We look forward to welcoming you back when we’re able to.”
The British Bird of Prey Centre, Carmarthenshire
The bird of prey centre, based in The National Botanic Garden of Wales, has said it will close from Monday, December 14 due to the “last minute changes”.
The centre said: “Due to more last minute changes, we are now being told we will have to close from Monday. This weekends Magical Family Christmas Experience will take place as planned.
“We will be contacting everyone with a booking from Monday. If you have a booking after 14th and have not received an email by Monday please email us and we will sort things out for you. Please try not to call, we are working our way through everything as quickly as possible.”